Augmenting The Segment: Accessories In The Mainstream Fashion Race8 min readReading Time: 6 minutes
When we think of fashion retail, we immediately think of apparel. All of those beautiful clothes selling in stores, the stunning displays, the ever-changing collections…
And yet, numbers show that the real money resides in accessories. Nike is the second-largest revenue generator in fashion, and a majority of their profits come from the sale of shoes. The Colin Kaepernick advertisement may have generated a lot of controversies, but if anything, it has brought even more visibility to the brand. In other words, Nike is not slowing down anytime soon.
Why stop at Nike, though? Hermes, Pandora and Adidas all rank in the top ten in year-on-year revenue growth, and they all sell accessories of one kind or another. The one common thread that we notice in all successful accessories brands is this- they are online, and they went online at a time when most other brands were barely contemplating the decision.
Today, omnichannel retail is how they do business. Take Pandora for example. Even as it scaled back on its stores across the globe, it made significant investments in developing a digital team and in e-Commerce analytics.
Arriving just in time to suit market sensibilities has helped several accessories retailers ace the e-Commerce game even as others flounder. What do people want when buying accessories online, and how can brands provide that? How are some brands managing to see unprecedented success in accessories e-Commerce? Let us answer those questions, starting as always with customer experience.
What Customers Want
We’re not sure how many people would want Mel Gibson’s superpower from the 2000 classic hit What Women Want, but we do know that many retailers would die- nay, kill- to be able to read the thoughts of their customers.
Thanks to relentless work done in the space as well as observing consumer buying patterns over time, we now know that customers have some specific preferences that they may not always articulate into as many words. In the context of accessories e-Commerce, here are a few things that we think all customers look for.
Well, that’s a complicated mnemonic from the nineties, but it pretty much sums up what e-Commerce, in general, should look like- What You See Is What You Get. Particularly in accessories, the scope for duplication is very high. Apart from high-resolution product images, relevant gemstone certificates, proofs of authenticity and other such documentation need to be displayed up front.
As we know, some accessories can be fairly expensive, and like a Birkin bag, most of them are lifelong investments. Hence, it is important for a customer to receive the message of authenticity loud and clear.
Supplier-members of Better Business Bureau are often trusted for providing the right product at a genuine cost price. Communicating this to the end customer is one other way to help them make a purchase decision.
Why Should You Be The One?
Today, there is no dearth of advertising or avenues to put the word out there. However, only some accessories retailers succeed in the din, while others perish. Needless to say, brands always have the upper hand since they have already established their position in the market. That said, newer brands like Allbirds have also seen success in the online accessories space.
One common thread that connects all of the successful brands is their clear value proposition. For example, ASOS makeup is unisex, Allbirds shoes are all-terrain, and Zappos has excellent customer service. Brands like these have taken the consumer’s perception of them and spread the word far and wide. As a result, customers now trust them.
Money On The Advertising
For an up-and-coming brand, there is no replacement today for paid advertising. Luckily, though, it is possible to advertise in a targeted manner unlike the print advertisements of the previous century.
By virtue of design, accessories are attractive products! Brands know this- they know that we love to look at nice pictures. So, they do everything in their power to put up these nice pictures. A clear content strategy is where they begin their digital efforts from, and every post serves a purpose.
For example, Pandora’s Instagram account is all about the product. Even their videos are oriented towards a more freethinking customer looking to buy jewelry. The same goes for Skinny Tie Madness. Because they have a very niche product, they find fun and creative ways of showcasing the product itself.
Until the followers come in, it is always a good idea to advertise on visual platforms like Instagram to garner more eyeballs.
The Best Product Description There Ever Was
That does sound like a copywriter’s epitaph, but well, e-Commerce is all about the showcase. Detailed, in-depth product descriptions are a common feature across all successful brand websites. Take ASOS for example. One of their product’s description reads like this:
- It’s already got your attention
- Cat design
- Long chain strap
- Branded back
- Glitter-flecked finish
- Interior compartment
Does it get any better than a little bit of a show, all of the details and an easy-to-read format? Just that bit of extra attention can go a long way in getting customers to remember a brand, and then buy from the brand when the time comes.
Nike, on the other hand, writes descriptions that answer questions the same way a store employee would. What does the product do? Where do we use it? Is it water-resistant? This format provides information upfront.
Get Famous And Get Rich
Any accessories brand looking to sell online needs to be able to present itself as an authentic brand that completely gets its customers and caters to their specific needs. In order to do this, different retailers apply different techniques.
Brands like Lovoda and Obscura Shop use interfaces like BigCommerce to host their online stores on. They say that the importance to visual detail and clean design helps them focus all of a customer’s attention onto the products themselves. But that isn’t the only way to become popular.
Stores like ASOS and Select almost always have a sale going on, and they highlight this very prominently on their respective websites. They understand that a good portion of their audience is coming for a fair deal, and they’re happy to provide it up front.
Others like Macy’s have excellent backend operations that make things like next day delivery possible. Needless to say, they are not shy about putting the word out there. The Misguided page banner itself proclaims their delivery feature and the supremely cheap price at which customers can make it happen for themselves.
Some brands like Zara are well-aware of just how famous they are. They do not need to throw the entire product catalog into their customers’ faces. Instead, they choose to use big, bold shots of models and looks almost like a fashion editorial. A single image often showcases apparel, accessories and so much more, and nearly all of them are available in the specific product catalog.
One common feature that all successful retailers in the accessories space exhibit is the easy of sending feedback and receiving a response. It is natural for someone buying jewelry online to be jittery about it, however, established the store may be. Keeping this in mind, most brands use social media as a sounding board for their customers. They also pay close attention to customer complaints and service calls.
Zappos, for example, has customer service personnel that can engage in calls for hours on end. Since they are so closely connected to customers, both disgruntled and otherwise, they are able to work on issues that will benefit the community at large. As a result, even customers who do not voice their complaints often find their problems solved, and the brand gains credibility.
Through The Looking Glass
What does the future of accessories ecommerce look like? For one, we will see many more established and new brands turning on the omnichannel switch and figuring out their online operations. In an industry that is expected to touch $120 billion next year selling shoes alone, major changes in how business is done are to be expected.
We see a growing demand for customized 3D printed accessories. Web stores make this a possibility because customers can easily design their product from the comfort of their favorite screens, upload the design and have the product delivered to them. One just needs to take a look at the number of projects in this space funded on sites like Indiegogo to know that this is a distinct possibility.
With growing trust in e-Commerce, we can also look forward to fairly new accessories such as wearable technology being sold online. Again, the potential for customizing any given product is limitless. Brands in these spaces should look to move online as soon as possible to gain the first-mover advantage.
As the fashion industry grows as a collective, its subsets in accessories can also be expected to continue to grow in response to rising demand.